General David Petraeus reported to the US Senate today about CENTCOM's posture in the Middle East [PDF]. In his presentation was a list of things he sees as "cross-cutting issues that serve as major drivers of instability, inter-state tensions, and conflict" which can "serve as root causes of instability or as obstacles to security" for CENTCOM.
Here's the first thing on the list:
Insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.
The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.